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The Norm Macdonald Emmys Tribute That Infuriated Twitter

On September 14, we learned famed comedian Norm Macdonald died at age 61 from cancer. News of Macdonald's death was a shock to fellow comedians, the Hollywood community in general, and longtime fans of the sharp-tongued funnyman. Because the beloved stand-up's death occurred so near to Sunday's 2021 Emmys show, it wasn't too much of a surprise that his name came up in a warm tribute from two of his peers. Macdonald was, after all, best known for his work in television, including his five-year run in the '90s on "Saturday Night Live" (via IMDb).

About halfway through the evening, John Oliver and Lorne Michaels, the latter of whom is Macdonald's former "SNL" boss, took the opportunity to remember Macdonald in a loving tribute (via Variety). While accepting the Emmy for outstanding variety talk series, Oliver remarked, "I do want to say, this is an award for late-night comedy. No one was funnier in the last 20 years than Norm Macdonald on late-night comedy." Then, as he accepted the award for outstanding variety sketch series, Michaels shared his own thoughts: "'Weekend Update' has been part of 'SNL' for 46 seasons. And here, I'd like to pay tribute to one of the best we ever had, Norm Macdonald."

While Oliver's words about the late comedian were touching, Michaels' comments sparked a heated reaction from viewers on Twitter.

Lorne Michaels' Emmys tribute to Norm Macdonald didn't go over well with viewers

Lorne Michaels' tribute to Norm Macdonald at the 2021 Emmys didn't go over well with viewers, who were reacting to the show in real-time online on social media. Why? Well, much like an elephant, the internet never forgets. If you cast your mind back to the mid-to-late '90s, you may recall Macdonald made jokes about O.J. Simpson during the "Weekend Update" segment on "SNL" (via Rolling Stone). The jokes became such a frequent occurrence that it's believed they played a key role in Macdonald's firing from the long-running television sketch series (via Daily Beast). Now, fast forward to Sunday night at the Emmys. With this history in mind, it's understandable that viewers would not react well to Michaels' tribute because the implication is that, as the man who likely played a role in Macdonald's ouster, the "SNL" head's words came off as hypocritical.

Twitter user @FL_FLutterby wrote, "This was terrific to see. Maybe Lorne is finally regretting that horrible decision. Another Twitter user, @CaitlinPacific, chimed in with, "Where were all of these people when ⁦@normmacdonald⁩ had his show canceled for rash remarks? He could have used some friends." When Michaels brought up Macdonald, user @BrianF1Man weighed in with a short, simple, and terse remark: "The guy you fired? Got it."